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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is an elegy for a wasted life. Sackville paints an intimate portrait of an old lady who in the eyes of society has had it all, wealth, a title, children a distinguished husband; and shows the real woman on the inside. The real woman mourns her younger self, a vital woman who wanted to spend her life painting and make painting her life. Now, with her husband dead she isolates herself and takes stock of what the purpose of her life has been. It is sweet and melancholy, yet saved from being sentimental by real touches of humour and satire and a couple of key points of redemption within the structure of the novel.
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on 22 August 1999
How effortlessly Ms. Sackville-West spins her surprisingly moving story of an aging aristocrat who, near the end of her life, decides to do those things she could never do before as she sublimated herself to her strong, successful and controlling husband. This classic British diplomat, who expected to be obeyed because such were the times, was, after all, so much more important than she was and what an interesting life she had in his shadow, didn't she - so conscientious and such a good wife and mother. What she does when he dies, how she perceives her existence and her place in her family - and how they respond - will catch you up in its wake and carry you to the ending, which is perfect and thus bittersweet. I found this a memorable novella.
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on 9 January 2014
As the heroine of this story is 88 years of age, what can one expect in terms of plot or events? Not much, really, but this is, nevertheless, a cracking book. The story starts off with the death of Lady Slane's husband, whose imposing career had made him a very public and respected figure. Lady Slane, essentially a free spirit but thwarted by her marriage in her ambitions to become a painter, has spent her life devoted to her husband's career and the upbringing of her six children, who, elderly themselves, think of her as unpractical and just too old to look after herself. She however surprises them all by deciding to live on her own in a house she'd spotted years earlier, and settling in a quiet life surrounded by a few confidants, avoiding the limelight and the attentions of her greedy and mean-spirited children unable to see their mother's true needs. In the time remaining to her she sagely looks back at her long life.

This short outline may not seem very promising, but this book has wisdom, wit and psychological understanding and it's very well written - I read it with unflagging interest. An excellent book, and I'll certainly look into Vita Sackville-West's other writings.
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on 20 January 2016
A surprisingly enjoyable and amusing book. It was the first book by this author that I have read and I expected it to be more dated than it was. The author, who was only about forty when she wrote the book, showed remarkable insight into what old age is like although it was difficult to imagine the heroine of 88 taking the tube and walking in Hampstead when she could have taken a taxi. I loved some of the descriptions of Lady Slane's children and thought the author was probably getting back at some of her society acquaintances in these portraits. I think that quite often elderly people resent the way their grown up children treat them and would like to behave like Lady Slane if they could afford it.
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on 13 December 2008
This is a curious book. It is the recollections of an 88 year-old woman and her contemplation over her past as her very eminent husband dies and she is left -after 70 years of marriage- to reflect upon her choices and her life.

In worldly terms she had anything a woman of her time could want. A very successful marriage with a man she loved and who loved her, six children many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She had a very enviable social status as her late husband had been a viceroy in India and a PM and no financial worries. She had anything that 'anyone' wants but not what she wanted albeit to live free of social constrains and to become a painter.

The novel compares her personal value system with the socially imposed value system presenting a person that succumbed to the demands on the world but always believed there was something fraud in her life.

There is little action in the book as it is written in a contemplative manner as the title suggests passionlessly. There is something Proustian in the narrating style which is slow and reflective. In concept it manifests how women (and maybe men too) were trapped by social expectations into a life that lacked authenticity.
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on 1 February 2004
An interesting book, whose flashbacks reveal the true but suppressed personality of the main protagonist, Lady Slane, a woman whose charater was never truly appreciated neither by her husband nor by her many children.
One has the feeling her true life begins after the death of her husband,with her living in Hampstead. The village of Hampstead represents an emotional as well as a spacial seperation from the children and her previous existence.
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on 16 May 2013
Full of wisdom, mystery and simply delightful writing. Each time I have re-read it I have gleaned something new and remarkable in its insight and lyrical writing.

(I would however correct Amazon - the book is by Vita Sackville-West. Joanna Lumley did not co-author this and it is wrong to credit her thus; she simply wrote an introduction.)
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on 18 September 2013
I remember seeing the serialised version of All Passion Spent on television and have to say it was faithful to the book , I have started but not finished the remaining stories so far, they seem promising
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on 12 September 2014
So far I have only read All Passion Spent, it was for my reading group. I enjoyed it so much - prior to this I was reading Goldfinch by Donna Tart - my goodness what a chore, so to put that down (unfinished) and turn to Vita Sackville West was glorious, Heaven sent.
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on 17 May 2013
Thoughts, aspirations and friendships we still experience today, writing so full of insight with brilliantly observed characters and an enviable economy with words that most other writers should envy.
A book to read and read again and never lend to even your closest friend.
Buy them a copy of their own..but you won't find it in any charity shops!
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